The Golden Rule is NOT a Fixed Position

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I am having the time of my life! You would never know it by the Ass Whoopin’ I’m taking at times.

Who says ‘ass-whoopin’ and ‘time of their life’ in the same sentence?

Some days I am certain there is seriously something wrong with me. Then I remember, I have decided to lay down my House of Armour and LIVE. OUT. LOUD. At least for today. Tomorrow may not look like this, but today I chose to stand on my values and allow myself to really be seen. I can’t believe that I’m actually saying that I’m having the time of my life to be honest with you. I am choosing to dare greatly by facilitating my first Daring Way™ group with such beautiful people. I sometimes want to scoop them all up and take them home with me to my family. Other moments, I want to run away screaming out of fear that I will never measure up because I am too young, sling around too many cuss words and listen to weird music. (I always envision myself running away in my kelly green dress with my hands flailing and of course trip because I have on three inch nude heels).

But a moment keeps grabbing my attention while processing through group session after group session (Yes, us therapy-heads can’t live with ourselves until we process the process). Someone suggested that I not reach out to someone privately in the group because the side conversation would be too time consuming. I really had to think on that. The question really became, ‘Where is MY time boundary?’ ‘What am I willing to put in?’ Interestingly enough, my reasoning for not reaching out in that moment ended up having nothing to do with my boundary issue around time, but instead, the need for the work to remain in the group. Something very important would have been lost if it took place off alone, somewhere else.

I often say that I genuinely disagree with the golden rule. So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12) What my boundary is around my time, how I spend my money? Who I would consider a friend?….the list goes on and on are invariably so different from one person to the next. Who says that I am right and they are wrong? There are so many areas of gray in our lives and what may be a meaningful boundary for one person may be a violation for the next.

 

So where does my boundary lie around time? While I was deciding whether or not to take the time to reach out to this person privately, my mind kept going back to one thing…..

When I was in college I had befriended a group of physicists. (Don’t ask, other than I was a closet nerd and had NO idea). I had the coolest friend, following my mental work out with him as my tutor.  His name was Joe and I was the supplier of girls to his physics parties, because, well….You know. There weren’t many girls.

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Just that year Joe got a new roommate named Donovan. He had recently lost one of his best friends in a terrible accident. His friend was hit by an 18 wheeler while changing his tire trying to make the trek to California. I had no money, certainly little time and I really did not know him but a few months. But I went to the book store, used the few bucks I had for the end of the month and bought him a sympathy card- it had some cute little sappy puppy on the front of it. I wrote in green pen (don’t ask me why I remember).

Next month Donovan and I will celebrate 17 years of being together. He says that card sparked something in him and when we spoke of it this week, he still gets a big cheesy smile on his face and mutters on about how special it was to him.

It is such a funny thing, this time boundary. I don’t want to be that person that forgets my family and friends birthdays (although I am not so good at it). I want to remember to send sympathy cards on the year anniversary after a family member passed. I want to leave love notes on your car and send kooky cat messages on sad, hard or just lonely days. I don’t want to be that perfunctory girl who just sends out the perfunctory message wishing my friends a happy fill in the blank day. I want to take the time. I want to share my piles of party crap and stay up late making sure some order gets out on time. And sometimes, when the vulnerability dial is high, I am going to take a chance, step out of my comfort zone and share myself with someone new.

I want to leave my legacy as being that kind of person who made you believe

you really mattered, because you do.

And No, I don’t expect the same back. The golden rule is not a fixed position.

So, I am having the time of my life….me and my ass-whoopin’ group. I keep leaning in and listening to where my boundaries work for me, listening carefully as my group dares greatly, voice their boundaries and maybe….just maybe…..We will each decide to take the time to dial up the vulnerability.

LIVE. OUT.LOUD. 

 

Mother of Dragons For Mother’s Day

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I think of myself as a rather thoughtful and kind person. Yes, I am well aware that my sassiness might blind you to these facts from time to time…..but they do exist. However, when it comes to Mother’s Day, I have been stuck in a SUCK tunnel.

Before becoming a mother I am sure I made plates of burnt toast and construction paper cards, followed by cheese ball Mother’s Day Cards (I dunno, ask my mother). Then I brought home my beautiful baby girl on Mother’s Day nine years ago and looked forward to breakfast in bed and gifts I (usually) requested from my BFF’s jewelry store. If we are not uniquely acquainted, everyone should have a BFF that is a jewelry designer….Just Sayin’.

But over this past year, something has sprouted within me and has been vining around my pretty little heart. The weeks leading up to this morning have led me to want to send cards and messages to people because they are “like” Mothers to me (Say it in Your Best Valley Girl Voice). So I declare an end to this notion that a mother is someone who either participates in the making of or adopting of a human baby! I mean, REALLY, what a tragic and small definition to the notion of Nurturing!

Or Worse, you don’t get to celebrate anymore because she is gone. Or EVEN worser, what do we do when we are not in a place to nurture our relationship with our Mother? That phone call…and you KNOW that phone call I am talking about, is just pure torture, if it even happens at all.

So, besides all of us who have had the unique messy pleasure of being a parent…..my heart sprouts around so many others places.

I think about my BFF who lost her Mother at a very young age. I know I will never meet her, but I know every time I look at her, I see her Mother alive in her eyes. How can that kind of pang of loss ever go away? Especially when I am told her Mother was one awesome Bad-Ass? She never got to meet my BFF’s children and they are simply amazing.

I think about my friend who is Mother to all of New Orleans in the Louisiana Restaurant Association. She supports her community with passionate love through food. Some mothers I know can barely make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She makes your mouth water every time you see her post FB pictures supporting a new local restaurant or local high school students growing their culinary skills. Not to mention a great lover of her sweet fur baby!

I smile on my friend who has nurtured her love of her fur baby with diabetes for many years. Her sweet love of a dog is coming towards the end of her life and she continues to give her the kind of grace and dignity I would expect us to give any human being.

I consider my daughter’s god parents who would become her guardians if something tragic were to happen to my spouse and I. They do not have human children, but are already Mothering the person she will become; helping shape the woman that we shall see in the future. I am more than confident they are Mothers and they are Men!

I ponder on my friend who has lost one of her children. She celebrates with another child and grandchildren and I am certain it is beautiful, but it will not be without loss. How do you get through the day and not consider that?

And there are my friends who are in dark spots with their Mothers….It can happen to all of us so don’t act like it can’t be you if it hasn’t been you. Mother’s Day doesn’t wait for us to work out the bats in our head so it can certainly pass by and create a painful moment that is hard for everyone to overcome.

And how about my friend who is Mother to every sexual assault survivor she encounters in the emergency room? In those moments, she loves and nurtures them, creating a safe environment, sometimes Mothering the entire family through their darkest hour.

And what about those waiting to Mother? I watch some of my friends and clients be in relationship with my daughter and think, ‘DAMN! Now THAT Girl has Got IT!’ (what ever the hell IT is). You see that and know a kid needs to be whipped up, adopted or just magically appear for all I care because that person loves with their whole heart and Well, Whew! I just want someone other than my kiddo to share in that kind of Joy!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear ya critics; “This is Suppose To Be My Day! Why are You being so ALL-Inclusivey and Stuff? I want MY DAY!” Believe me, this princess wants her day too. And I can tell ya, making me get all dressed up and “taking me” out to brunch is NOT what you are going to do on my day. I will take an order of yoga pants, no bra and breakfast in bed, Thank you.

But, I just got to say, something has really shifted in my sassy little heart. Perhaps I have watched too many episodes of Game of Thrones and I have come to believe we are all capable of being Mother of Dragons. If Daenerys Targaryen can rule a wild, mythical, fire-breathing beast, who’s to say what a Mother really is anyway? I say, if you can grow and nurture it, then you can call yourself Mother.

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An Act Of Self Compassion

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One challenging aspect of being a therapist is to not simply pay lip service to what is suggested to clients in their consideration of growth and change. I believe that a therapist is only as good as their own personal life. Now it is true that it is not appropriate to share my personal life details because therapy is intended for the growth of the client, but if I make suggestions and do not live by them, then for me, I am simply a liar suggesting to others that they should change their life, while I am wildly and knowingly making the same mistakes. And the most difficult for me , STAY HOME when sick!

For a small business owner, no work equals no pay. It is difficult for those of us that run their own business because we know that others genuinely count on us to be present. In my case, it is not like I can call in a substitute to take over. That would be an ethical violation worth loosing my license over! None the less, the art of self care is always a difficult task especially when we want to make sure others are aware of how important they are in our lives.

I have had countless sessions over the years on the Art of Self Care. I find the idea of putting yourself at the bottom of your list curious and absurd. I understand that everywhere we turn our community, society at large and even religion tells us that we are to operate daily like the sacrificial lamb, putting all people ahead of ourselves. The last time I checked, when I ride around on empty, really, ‘E’ means there is nothing and you will be dead on the side of the road. You cannot give of yourself when you needs emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually are tanked. Worse than that, we make statements about how family or close friends are at the top of our list while we are dead last; therefore they are farthest away from us. It is a farce, at best, to say that we will give of our time, attention and energy to family and friends when we have to trickle the energy up the list in desperation to even share what may be left with those that mean the most to us.

If we do not put ourselves at the top of our list, yes, I even mean before our children, everyone and everything in your life gets a half-ass version of us. If we are not well and fully present then how can anyone expect us to genuinely give of ourselves? How can I call myself a decent therapist if I promote extreme self sacrifice as a tenant of a happy life? I understand that over the years, I have been accused of being selfish and I understand that what I write goes against a great deal of what the world tries to tell us. But the last I checked, a person that does not participate in the consistent act of self care, with intention, on a regular basis, is running on empty. When we stop sacrificing our needs, everyone around us will get the best that we have to offer.

The Act of Self Care does not require taking up a new hobby or adventure, although it may. It is remembering to do the little things consistently that allow us to maintain emotional clarity. This includes getting enough rest, exercise, eating well, playing just for fun and remembering to relax with intention. It is normal to fear how we will be perceived when we say, “NO”. We all have to regularly fight off the urge to be perceived as perfect. We do not want to admit the possible shame surrounded by being seen as weak. However, when we truly show ourselves, flawed and with limitation, just like the rest of us, that is when we are truly courageous. So, while I attempt to allow my body to heal from my now five days of illness and am certain me and this bed are one, I continue to wrestle with the urge that I am super human. But instead, I will do as I should and take another nap.

Be Well and Live. Out. Loud.